Thursday, January 12, 2012

Billy the Kid on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE--Review

As a fan of American history, I have enjoyed watching the programming on the PBS series American Experience since it first started in 1988. The research for these shows is amazing, and I like the fact that the research is displayed on their website, as well.

On January 10, 2012, American Experience premiered Billy the Kid to kick off their Wild West series. The show is now available for viewing on their website here.

Honestly, considering all of the preliminary material available on the website and the detailed history provided during the program, I was impressed by the entire package. I did not feel the show glorified a bad guy, I do not believe it slandered a Western hero. I believe it provided an honest glimpse into the life of an angry young man who felt trapped by his circumstances, from his early days living with his mother in New York slums to the only existing photograph of Billy the Kid, a tintype that recently sold in Colorado for $2.3 million, which is discussed in an earlier post on this blog.

The show also included interviews with historians and researchers/writers, as well as some amazing footage of Lincoln County, New Mexico in the heart of the Lincoln National Forest.

Among the many resources available on American Experience, the website provides a Teacher's Guide to Billy the Kid, which suggests using the material as a jump off point to discuss a variety of topics, including Westward expansion and the American frontier. The website also has a photo gallery titled The Golden Age of the American Cowboy; a list of related books and websites; a timeline of events in the life of Billy the Kid; and an essay on "The Pardoning of Billy the Kid."

I highly recommend this show for its entertainment value and as an educational tool.


Tim Shey said...

I have hitchhiked through Lincoln County, New Mexico. Very beautiful country.

Tim Shey said...

Recently, I saw this program on The History Channel about Billy the Kid. Of the three people who investigated the death of Billy the Kid, two of them were positive that Pat Garrett did not kill him.

Darla Sue Dollman said...

That's an interesting coincidence--I'm watching a show right now that seems to be saying the same thing.

Indigo Red said...

Not only is possible that Pat Garrett did not kill Billy the Kid, but it's also possible that Billy the Kid was not killed by Pat Garrett. Now that sounds stupid, but there is only one authenticated photo of Billy and most folks had no idea what the Kid looked like. Garrett was only person who knew Billy personally at the time and place of the shooting and he identified the body.

Those who might have seen the one photo of Billy would have believed him to be left-handed as we have for more than 100 hundred years. The photo is the one you show in the right column which shows his pistol on his left hip. The newspaperman who published the photo, accidentally reversed it when typesetting. A close examination of the Winchester clearly shows the loading door is on the wrong side of the rifle. Billy the Kid was right-handed, may have been allowed to escape by his friend Garrett, and died an old man.

Another fabulous Old West mystery. Gotta love it.

Darla Sue Dollman said...

I'm working on a post on Billy the Kid right now. Oddly, I've never written about him. It seems there's already so much said about him. I think it would be fun to write my opinions on the issue, though. You're right--there is so much mystery, and so many conflicting views on what happened!

Christmas dinner for a family, from a series of photos documenting Gen. John J. Pershing's 1916 Punitive Expedition into Mexico. ...